Fraktur or Antiqua in primary schools? The struggle for a unified typeface in German-speaking Switzerland between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
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In this paper, we analyse the struggle for a unified style of writing in primary schools in the German-speaking part of Switzerland between the 1860s and the first decades of the twentieth century with regard to the contexts in which this struggle was embedded. In the late-nineteenth century, in German-speaking Switzerland, as in other parts of the German-speaking realm, a controversy emerged regarding whether general writing practices (handwriting and print) should adhere to the traditional Gothic script and typefaces called Fraktur or whether such practices should change in favour of the Latin script and typefaces called Antiqua. This controversy was fuelled by economic arguments (Latin script was used in international commerce), scientific arguments (the question of which type- face was “healthier” emerged), and arguments questioning which cultural liaisons should be upheld or even strengthened (Antiqua was identified with Romance and English languages and cultures, whereas Fraktur was identified with German language and culture). In German-speaking Switzerland, as a part of a multilingual country, the latter was particularly important because this question of cultural allegiance was expressed by the basic cultural practice of writing.